Red Sox leaning toward Jose Iglesias as starting shortstop

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Boston traded away Mike Aviles in the deal for manager John Farrell and the free agent shortstop class is an extremely weak one, so not surprisingly it looks like the Red Sox are planning to have 22-year-old rookie Jose Iglesias as their starting shortstop in 2013.

Nothing is set in stone, of course, but general manager Ben Cherington said acquiring another shortstop is on the “back-burner” behind more pressing needs and Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes that Iglesias stepping forward to claim the full-time job “is clearly what they are hoping will happen.”

“We think Jose is ready to help the major league team, depending on what the rest of the team looks like,” Cherington said, adding that “nobody is going to be given anything” and “if he’s given an opportunity to win the job in spring training, then he’ll have to win the job.”

Iglesias is an elite defender capable of making some truly spectacular plays, but there are major questions about his bat. He’s hit just .251 with two homers and a .589 OPS in 189 games at Triple-A and batted .135 in 35 games for the Red Sox.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.